Fallacy of relative privation

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For the sociological term, see relative deprivation.

The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to worse problems, is an informal fallacy which attempts to suggest that the opponent's argument should be ignored because there are more important problems in the world, despite the fact that these issues are often completely unrelated to the subject under discussion.

A well-known example of this fallacy is the response "but there are children starving in Africa," with the implication that any issue less serious than that is not worthy of discussion; or the common saying "I used to lament having no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet."

The word whataboutery has been used to describe this line of argument when used in protesting inconsistent behavior. e.g. "The British even have a term for it: whataboutery. If you are prepared to go to war to protect Libyan civilians from their government, then what about the persecuted in Bahrain?"[1]

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  1. ^ Romesh Ratnesar "In Defense of Inconsistency." Time (US edition) 28 March 2011

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